Bail maintained for man accused in traffic deaths
WAILUKU – With a deputy prosecutor saying the defendant was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, a judge Tuesday kept bail at $750,000 for a Pukalani man indicted on five counts of manslaughter in the traffic deaths of his five passengers last year.
Libert Kuuipo Qalivere, 22, had sought a reduction in his bail.
But Deputy Prosecutor Mark Simonds said the $750,000 bail was “more than reasonable” in light of Qalivere’s history and the circumstances of the crash, which occurred shortly after 6 a.m. March 25 on Kula Highway near Noholoa Street.
Simonds said Qalivere had been at a party at the “Plenty Kiawe” area of Kaupo and drank liquor to the point where his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.157 percent, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Then, Qalivere strapped himself into a Dodge Neon, driving five passengers toward Pukalani, Simonds said.
“The defendant was operating the vehicle in a very erratic manner on Kula Highway,” Simonds said, when the Neon collided head-on with a Suzuki Aerio heading uphill.
“The force of the collision sheared the Neon in half,” Simonds said.
All five passengers were ejected from the Neon and died. They were Remington Taylor Redwell, 20, of Lahaina; Steven R. Shaw, 20, of Lahaina; Annastachia Cruz-Kalua, 19, of Pukalani; Ambrose “AJ” Momoa, 20, of Waiehu; and Karl Barrack, 20, of Pukalani.
A man and two women in the Suzuki were transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center for treatment.
As part of a police traffic investigation, the Neon’s speed was calculated at more than 76 mph in a 45-mph zone, Simonds said.
Qalivere was a flight risk with ties to Fiji, he said.
The defendant was previously arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant on July 15, 2011. After Qalivere missed his Aug. 18, 2011, sentencing date in Lahaina District Court, a bench warrant had been issued for his arrest, Simonds said.
“He does pose an extreme danger to the community,” he said.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza said he was following the recommendation of a bail study in keeping Qalivere’s bail at $750,000.
In addition to the five counts of manslaughter, Qalivere is charged with second-degree negligent injury, two counts of inattention to driving and driving under the influence of alcohol. Qalivere has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During his arraignment last week, Qalivere was ordered to have no contact with the immediate family members of those killed in the crash and the occupants of the Suzuki. He also was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
If released on bail, Qalivere was ordered to surrender his passport, abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and not operate a motor vehicle.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.